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1831.)

[ 201 ]
THE IMPROVEMENTS NEAR CHARING-Cross.

(With a Plan). THE improvements at the west end beyond that which already existed of the Strand, in which considerable within the precincts of the Mews; progress has lately been made, are but it having appeared to the Commiscalculated to add so greatly to the sioners, after much consideration, that convenience of communication, as well the unequal length of the two sides so as to the ornament of that part of the defined would be a deformity particumetropolis, that we cannot but con- larly striking in the approach from gratulate the public on their approach. Whitehall, and that a much larger ing accomplishment; and we are con- space than was at first designed ought vinced that the accompanying plan to be left open, besides that it was will be contemplated with interest, as highly desirable to widen the west well by those who have to plod their end of the Strand, Mr. Nash was, in daily way through the intricacies of March 1825, directed carefully to rethe great Babylon, as to those less oc- consider the subject. The result was cupied, but not less curious, indivi. a plan by which the area was proposed duals, who are saved that weary toil, to be enlarged by the removal of the and by a distant residence are pre- whole of the lower part of St. Marvented from making their personal ob tin's Lane, and the improvements were servations on the spot.

extended in the direction of the Strand It is well known that the architectu- as represented in the map before us. ral improvements of the western quar- The suggestions and estimates of Mr. ter of the metropolis, which so greatly Nash having been submitted to the distinguished the peaceful reign of Lords of the Treasury, and having reKing George the Fourth, have been ceived their approbation,“the Charing. conducted under the control of his Cross act” was introduced to the LeMajesty's Commissioners of Woods, gislature in the session of 1826, and Forests, and Land Revenues. As soon received the royal assent on the 31st ás, under the direction of that Board, of May in that year, that part of this truly national design For effecting the principal improvehad been executed, which provided the ment* authorized by this Act, there line of communication between Pall. were required 515 houses and buildMall and Portland-place, the Commis. ings in and near Charing-Cross, St. sioners took measures for proceeding Martin's Lane, and the Strand; the with the further object, which pro- value of which property was originally posed the continuation of Pall-Mall estimated at 748,7921. 128. 10d. into St. Martin's Lane, the disclo. When, however, the business had sure to view of the noble portico of St. made considerable progress, it was Martin's church, and the formation of found that the value of the property an open area in front of the King's exceeded that sum by 95,6971. 128. Mews.

gd.; and in the account drawn up on The original plan had not contem- the 5th of January 1829, the following plated the extension of this area far statement of expenditure was given :

£. $, d. The present estimate of the value of the property to be purchased............843,950 4 9 Architects', Surveyors', and Solicitors' charges ; rents of leasehold proper

ties purchased, deficiencies in parochial rates, Auditors' and Treasury · fees, salarier, gratuities to tenants at will, interest on purchase-moneys,

and incidental charges ................................................................. 94,513 0 0 Redemption of Land Tax .......................

.......... 32,000 0 0 Paving carriage and foot ways, erecting lamp and guard posts ............ 17,234 0 0 Erecting a Vestry-room, Sexton's Office, and Watch-house, for parish of

St. Martin ; inclosing new church-yard, and constructing vaults......... 11,000 0 0 Rebuilding parochial School and Library, and part of the Workhouse, to obtain ground for enlarging Barracks at Charing Cross .................. 20,000 0 0

Total prohable expenditure......... ...............£1,018,697 4 9 * It embraced also two minor improvements in Downing-street and King-street, St. James's; which it is unnecessary to notice further on this occasion.

+ An article on the ancient state of Charing Cross and its neighbourhood, will be found in vol. xcvi. ii. 29.

GENT. MAG, March, 1831.

202

The Improvements near Charing-Cross. [March, The expences have been met by the nificent portico of St. Martin's church revenues, and certain sales, of the (which has been very properly consiCrown lands, without any Parliamen- dered as a principal object of regard in tary grants.

all the present arrangements,t) would During the last Session of Parlia- not show to greater advantage if this ment, an Act was passed, enabling building was to range with the west the Commissioners to raise 300,000l. end of the church. In this case its by loan; and the terms of the Equita front will at its northern angle recede ble Assurance Company being the low. somewhat further to the east, and toest, the Commissioners agreed with wards the southern wing project rathem for the whole sum at the interest ther further into the square than is of 31. 108. per cent., to be repaid at shown in the plan. Perhaps it is not the following periods :

possible to arrive at a satisfactory de301. per cent. at Midsummer 1833, termination on this point, until the 301. per cent. at Midsummer 1835, area has been entirely cleared, and its 401. per cent. at Midsummer 1837. effect on coming from Whitehall has

When the Commissioners made been ascertained. their last report, which is dated the On the north of the new Area, a 8th of June 1830, they had nearly very long building is laid down for a completed the purchase of all the pre- “National Gallery of Painting and mises required. Since that period, Sculpture;" but we believe it is by no the work of demolition has rapidly means certain that this edifice will be gone forward ; and to that has now erected. Mr. Arbuthnot, the First succeeded, and is proceeding with Commissioner in 1826, gave it as his scarcely less rapidity, the more pleas. opinion in addressing the House of ing process of re-edification.

Commons, that the paintings, statues, - We shall now briefly notice the and works of art possessed by the naseveral features of the plan before us; tion, would be more useful to the pubmerely premising that considerable lic there than in the British Museum, changes and modifications have taken But with that opinion we cannot agree. place since Mr. Nash's plan, made at Putting out of the question the addithe period already mentioned, was ditional expense of a distinct building, published in the Commissioners' Re- and distinct establishment, (but which port for 1826.

considerations will have their weight We will first place ourselves in the in the present æra of economy,) we Area. Its width from west to east is must contend that the site of the Brifive hundred feet; and from the front tish Museum is unexceptionable. It is of the old royal stables on the north considerably more centrical than Chato the statue of King Charles the First ring-Cross; and it is to be rememis the same distance. The western bered that neither the present valuable side is already formed by the beautiful treasures of that repository, nor those edifice occupied as the Union Club- destined to adorn a National Gallery, house, and the College of Physicians. are for the sole amusement of loungers On the eastern side it was proposed or people of fashion, but for the study by Mr. Nash to erect a range of build and instruction of the whole town; in ings of correspondent design, and in a all parts of which reside admirers of correspondent position ; but it is now the arts, and joint owners of the pubunder consideration whether the mag. lic collections. Add to this that the

* In the Report of 1829, it was mentioned that, in negociating the purchases, (then amounting to 540,) only eight cases had occurred in which it was necessary to resort to the compulsory powers of the Act for obtaining verdicts by juries, and in six of those cases verdicts were taken by mutual agreement after the juries had been impanelled. This is worthy of notice, as a remarkable contrast to the conduct of the parties coucerneil in the property required for the approaches to London Bridge.

t Ralph, an architectural critic of the last century, whose suggestions on metropolitan improvements have recently been often quoted, thus expressed hiinself on this subject, and pointed out the excellencies of the edifice : “I could wish, too, that a view was opened to St. Martin's church: I don't know any one of the modern buildings about town which more deserves such an advantage. The portico is at once elegant and august'; and the steeple above it ought to be considered as one of the most tolerable in town. * * * The round columns at each angle of the church are very well conceiv'd, and have a very fine Fect in the profile of the building. The east end is remarkably elegant, and very justly Penges a particular applause."-Critical Review of the Public Buildings, 1734.

1831.] The Improvements near Charing-Cross.

203 premises of the British Museum are which has been rebuilt by the Comsufficiently extensive for whatever ad- missioners. The corner house marked ditional buildings are likely ever to be with the letter A is appropriated to the required; but any new situation might West London Provident Institution ; be found too confined, when the op- that marked with the letter B is for portunity for enlarging it with advan. the Royal Society of Literature. tage no longer existed. The national On the opposite side of St. Martin's pictures at present remain in Pall- Lane stands the new residence of the Mall, at the house of the late Mr. An- incumbent of the parish; in a line gerstein ; all the sculpture belonging with which are a new Vestry-room to the nation is at the British Museum. and National School. The two former

The building formerly the Royal Sta. of these have been erected by the Combles, although possessed of some archi- missioners, in the place of those which tural merit, * will not be allowed to re- gave way to the improvements. From main. It would not stand in the mid- the old vestry room to the new one has dle of that side of the area, but in been removed a bust of a parochial the western half of it; a more impor- benefactor, under which is the followtant reason for its removal, however, ing inscription : 18 that the direction it takes is diffe- « The effigies of Richard Miller, esq. rent from that which will be required; who has given to ye Charity Schools of this since the new street, in order to lead parish 5001., to the Library and Free School directly to the noble portico which is 3001, and for the building of the Vestrythe great centre of attraction, must honse 300l. ; in memory of whose uncompass over the site of its eastern wing. mon benefactions, ye Vestry in his lifeThese stables, part of a more exten- time caus'd to be made and set up this his sive design never executed, were built ettigies A.D. 1726-7." in 1732, six years after St. Martin's There also are placed some portraits of church. They are now temporarily eminent Vicars, including Archbishops appropriated to two public objects; the Lamplugh and Tennison, Bishops ground floor to the menagerie formerly Lloyd (of Worcester), Green (Ely), at Exeter Change, and the upper story and Pearce, and Archdeacon Hamilto the “National Repository for the ton ;t as well as others of Gibbs the exhibition of specimens of new and im. architect of the church, and Sir Edproved productions of the artizans and mundbury Godfrey, a parishioner manufacturers of the United Kingdom.” chiefly immortalised by the tragical

In the centre of the square it was circumstances of his death. designed to erect a large building, The National School has been after the model of the Parthenon, to be erected by subscription, on ground devoted to the Royal Academy. This given by his Majesty King George IV. I intention has been relinquished; and The passage in front of these buildthe site remains free for some national ings leads directly to the new Lowther monument, which may reflect honour Arcade, the direction of which is calcu. on the patriotism and the taste of the lated to entice a numerous concourse country. On each side stations are of passengers. A Bazaar, intended to marked for equestrian statues of George take the place of that removed at Exethe Third and George the Fourth. ter Change, was, in Mr. Nash's oriig.

Behind the old Royal stable on the nal plan, laid down on the ground benorth-west, some extensive foot bar hind the spot where Exeter Change racks have been erected on what was stood. But, as this would have been the upper court of the Mews. The stack no thoroughfare, its failure might of building to the east of this consists reasonably have been anticipated. In principally of the Workhouse of St. the present situation, the reverse may Martin's parish, the back part of be expected.

* " The stables in the Meuse are certainly a very grand and noble building; but then they are in a very singular taste, a mixture of the rustic and the gothic together; the middle gate is built after the first, and the towers over the two others in the last."--Ralph. + See Malcolm's Londinium Redivivum, vol. iv. p. 193.

The Library School adjoining the workhouse (founded by Archbishop Tennison in 1685, which the Charing-Cross Act enabled the Commissioners to take dowu,) has not been disturbed, an alteration in the plan of the new barracks having made such encroachment unnecessary.

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